by David Courtney working tools

Ragmala Painting of Rag Bhairav (circa A.D. 1620-25)
Ragmala Painting of Rag Bhairav (circa A.D. 1620-25)


Rag Bhairav is a very common rag.  According to mythology, it was the first rag.  It is belived that it emanated directly from the face of Mahadev (Shiva).  It is a very well known rag but it is seldom heard because it is a morning rag and most performances are in the evening.  Kalingada is very similar and is more likely to be heard by most concert goers.

The use of Bharav in film music is much more flexible.  The informal treatment means that there is a lot of overlap with Kalingada.  This leads to lively discussions as to whether particular songs are in Kalingada or in Bhairav.  Furthermore, there is no adherence to particular times with most film songs.  Pehaps the most famous example is "Mohe Bhul Gaye Sanvariyan" from the film "Baiju Bawara".  For a larger list of film songs in Bhairav, check "Rags Used in the Films" (Bhairav).

Bhairav has a very simple structure.  It is sampurna - sampurna.  For those who still adhere to the Vadi / Samvadi theory, it has been suggested that Dha is the vadi and Re is the samvadiRe and Dha should have a heavy undolan (slow shake) to define its character.  Bhairav's characteristics are:


Ascending structure for Bhairav
(general discussion of arohana) - (general discussion of notation)


Descending structure of Bhairav
(general discussion of avarohana)


Sampurna - Sampurna - (general discussion of jati)


Morning - (general discussion of time and rag)


Bhairav That - (general discussion of that)


Sa - Pa - (general discussion of drone)


For more information check out "Elementary North Indian Vocal"




Selected Video





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For comments, corrections, and suggestions, kindly contact David Courtney at david@chandrakantha.com